Posts tagged with "budget"

5 Ways to Save More Money for a Down Payment on Your Home

There are plenty of reasons to buy your own home. Some of them are practical. In many places, mortgage costs are lower than rent. There are tax breaks associated with having a mortgage. A house can also be an excellent investment. However, many of the reasons are also emotional, and you may find yourself wanting to a buy a home even if it might not be the optimal financial decision. 

It can be comforting to know that you are not reliant on the whim of a landlord. If you are a DIY type, you may long to have a place of your own that you can put your stamp on. One of the big barriers to homeownership is money, and having more money for a down payment can get you a better payment plan. Below are several ways to help you save for this down payment.

Make a Budget

This is the first, fundamental step. Making a budget nearly always means that you will find places where there is waste, and you can put this money toward a home instead. Even though you are probably enthusiastic about saving, you should make sure that you don’t cut your budget to the absolute minimum because this is too hard to stick to. A budget that you can live with allows slow and steady savings.

Sell Your Life Insurance Policy

You might actually not realize that you have some valuable items that you could sell, such as your life insurance policy. Both permanent and term coverage can be sold, and it only takes a few seconds to get an estimate of your policy’s value. If you are single and do not have dependents, this might be a particularly attractive option. On the other hand, if there is a family that depends on you and they would need the money from the policy if anything happened to you, you may want to look at selling other items.

Sell Other Items

You can make money selling clothing, furniture, books, cookware and more. Whether you want to put them online, have an old-fashioned yard sale or take them to a consignment or other shop that buys used items, this is a quick way to make some cash on things you weren’t using anyway—and you won’t have to move them to your new home.

Gig Work

Gig work can be a great way to pick up some extra money because unlike a part-time job, it requires little commitment. You can deliver food, give people rides, walk dogs, mow lawns or do any number of other things and put away everything that you make toward your down payment. You might be surprised at how fast this can add up.

Look for High-Interest Savings

You can turn the money that you’re making from all of the above suggestions into even more money if you can get paid interest on it. While many traditional savings accounts offer low interest rates, if you do not need access to your down payment money for a while, you might look into certificates of deposit and other vehicles that may give you higher rates and make you some money without having to do anything at all.

Money & Relationship illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Money Issues × Relationships

Are Money Issues Ruining Your Relationship?

Read on for 5 tips to resolve them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with families’ finances through lost jobs, squeezed budgets, increased debt, and missed payments.

Money and the decisions spouses make with it are one of the main sources of stress among couples, and sometimes money issues end relationships or cause divorce. But differences can be solved or managed if couples learn to listen to each other and work as a team to formulate a sensible plan, says financial planner Aaron Leak, the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. 

“No matter how long you have been together, financial issues can wreak havoc on a committed relationship,” Leak says. “When couples don’t agree about spending and saving habits, it causes arguments and resentment.

“But understanding what you’re fighting about and why helps you and your partner come up with solutions. By being transparent and honest with each other about your finances, you can not only prevent arguments that strain your relationship, but you will strengthen it.”

Leak offers these tips for couples to address and resolve financial issues:

  • Understand your money styles. Think of some extreme examples of money styles in your circle. Like your friend, the foodie, who won’t touch a bottle of wine that costs less than $75. Or your sister who constantly surfs Amazon. Or your mom who washes aluminum foil, then folds and reuses it. Everyone has a money style, and it’s helpful to talk about it without any name-calling or labeling involved. Understanding your partner’s spending habits often involves a deep dive into money fears, scarcity memories and childhood traumas. Come up with a spending plan that works for both of you.
  • Decide how to divvy up the bills and save for future goals. You can both put all your earnings in a joint account and pay everything out of that. Or you can split bills down the middle and keep the rest of your own earnings for yourselves. Once you have decided how the bills get paid, you need to devise a plan for saving for your long-term goals. Remember that you need to work closely together as life changes arise – such as one of you losing a job or cutting back on hours to care for a parent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that contingency plans are always advisable.
  • Create personal spending allowances that stay personal. Having some personal money that’s designated just for you each month can really help how you feel about your relationship. It can also help avoid relationship-ruining behavior like “financial infidelity,” when one spouse hides money or purchases from the other. The personal spending allowance gives each partner the chance to spend their money however they wish, no questions asked.
  • Face and eliminate undesirable debt. Couples should employ a strategy to pay off debt, such as paying off the higher-interest debt first or paying off the smallest loans first (the snowball method). Payments on credit cards, car loans, and student loans can devour monthly budgets, so the sooner they are paid off, the better.
  • Set a budget you can live with. One of the best ways to keep in sync with your partner financially is to have a budget as part of your overall plan. The budget includes your household bills, your personal spending allowance, your debt-paying strategy, and your monthly budget for long-term goals like retirement.

“Relationships take consistent work in order to be happy and successful, and money management is a big part of it,” Leak says. “The best way to be sure you and your spouse are staying on the same page financially is to talk honestly and without judgment.”

About Aaron Leak

Aaron Leak has 16 years of experience in the financial industry and is the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. He holds Series 7, 6, 63 and 66 licenses as well as life, health, and property and casualty insurance licenses.

Money illustration for 360 Magazine

China’s Social Commerce Sales

China’s Social Commerce Sales to Soar by 36% to $363 Billion in 2021, Ten Times the U.S. Figure

Though the U.S. social commerce market is growing at a rapid pace, China is not likely to lose its position of dominance in the near future.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Finaria, the total social commerce sales in China was worth $242.41 billion in 2020, accounting for 11.7% of online sales. It will grow to $363.26 billion in 2021 and account for a 13.1% share of the eCommerce market.

The U.S. will take the lead in retail sales in 2021, with $5.506 trillion against China’s $5.13 trillion. But China’s eCommerce sales will outperform the U.S. by a $2 trillion margin.

52% of China’s Retail Sales Will Happen Online in 2021

The total number of social buyers in China was estimated to be 357.2 million in 2020. It is forecast to increase to 392.2 million in 2021, 420.0 million in 2022 and 446.8 million in 2023.

The commerce market’s performance is partly attributable to China’s smartphone-driven culture. Most social buyers U.S.e mobile devices to shop and most digital storefronts start out on mobile layouts.

WeChat’s Mini Programs is among the most popular platforms for social commerce. In 2020, the platform facilitated transactions worth 1.6 trillion yuan ($250 billion). That was double its 2019 transaction value. WeChat hosts around 2.3 million Mini Programs, compared to Apple App Store’s 1.96 million and Google Play Store’s 2.87 million.

Based on a study by WeForum, China accounted for over 50% of global online retail sales in 2020. The share of online sales in the country’s retail sales went from 20% in 2016 to 44.8% in 2020. Comparatively, the UK had a 27.7% share while the U.S. had 14.7%.

Lastly, according to eMarketer, 52.1% of China’s retail sales in 2021 will take place online. It will be the first time that a country records more sales online than offline. South Korea will follow with a 28.9% share while the UK will be third with 28.3%. The U.S. will have a 15% share.

More statistics and information can be found on Finaria’s website.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.

Sewing project tiger pillow

DIY Home Sewing Projects

By Tabitha Sewer,  Brother Ambassador, Sewing and Fashion Blogger and Entrepreneur

The virus has taken a toll on all our lives this year. It has completely turned all of our goals and plans for this year upside down. Rather than wallowing in self-pity over something I have no control over, I decided to see the positive side of all of this. Since building my home a few years ago, I never had the time to style it the way I really wanted. Now, with all the time in the world, I jotted down which rooms needed a makeover and what exactly I wanted to do with them.

The first project we took on at the start of quarantine was our back patio. This space was a muddy landing under the patio that stored my husband’s tools. This space was no doubt an eye sore. Before starting, we sat down as a family and discussed what each of us wanted the outcome to look like. Since vacations were off-limits this year, it was very important to us that this space had a relaxing, tropical vibe that could transport our minds away from everything that’s going on in the world.

My husband and I created a budget, planned out each project that we would complete in this space and moved forward with completing this transformation. We hired a professional to pour and level the concrete for the foundation of our new patio. To keep costs down, my husband and I laid the marble porcelain tile ourselves and even built our own couch.

The styling of the space was easy enough since I created a mood board with elements that we desired to have in this space. In two months time, our new back patio transformed into a backyard tropical oasis. When we step into this space, we literally feel like we are walking into a resort.

Some projects around the house don’t require an extensive timeline or huge budget. There are small, inexpensive projects that can be done to elevate your home and create an impactful moment.

We have a vintage velvet couch in our home that I found at a local thrift store for only $10. When we bought it, it looked extremely tattered and was on its last leg. We tore apart the fabric and cushions and refurbished it into the blue velvet couch we have today. This couch is most definitely beautiful enough to stand alone, but when I came across some designer velvet pillows online, I thought it would pair really well with the couch. So, I decided to make them.

As a Brother Ambassador, I love being able to share my love for Brother sewing machines. I use my machines to create my handmade wardrobe as well as projects around my home. Sewing has a stigma of being a craft that our grandparents would enjoy. I’m here to tell you that sewing isn’t for your grandmother’s anymore. I like to share sewing from a millennial’s point of view; recreating designer projects for less. With social media, inspiration is all around us. Being able to sew what inspires me is something I truly enjoy. Sewing allows me to have access to the things I want without breaking the bank.

So, get after it and feel empowered to create at home. You can upcycle old jeans into shorts during this Summer heat or get quality fashion without breaking the bank. While a pandemic absolutely doesn’t mean you have to come out with a new skill, after all we are just trying to get through each day with our friends and families. But, it can be a time that we come together, inspire and create to release some steam. Here’s how I created this designer-inspired velvet pillow to match my home.

Designer-Inspired Velvet Pillow

Materials:

  • Brother Stellaire Innov-is Sewing Machine
  • Embroidered Thread in Various Colors
  • Large Square embroidery Hoop
  • Tiger Embroidery File (6 in.)
  • ½ yard Velvet Fabric
  • 1.5 yards Braided Trim
  • ½ yard Pellon Sol-U-Film Wash Away Embroidery Stabilizer
  • Sulky Self- Adhesive Tear Away Stabilizer
  • 15” x 11” Pillow Insert

Note: You can purchase your embroidery file from Etsy as there are many available options.

Instructions:

  1. Take your Pellon Sol-U-Film Stabilizer and lay it directly on top of your velvet fabric. Take both and hoop it into your embroidery hoop. Make sure both the stabilizer and fabric are pulled taut inside the hoop. The stabilizer allows your machine to embroider on top of the fabric without the threads getting lost inside the texture of the velvet. Without it, you would not be able to make out the design.
  2. Flip the entire hoop upside down and attach the Sulky Self- Adhesive Tear Away Stabilizer. Be sure to press the stabilizer onto the fabric with your hands, making sure that it stays in place. This stabilizer is important because it gives the fabric and design more stability. It helps the design hold its shape without tugging on and distorting the quality of the delicate velvet fabric.
  3. Once the hoop is set up, place it inside your sewing machine. Set your machine up for embroidery and start. Keep an eye on your machine as it stitches to make sure that your machine doesn’t run out of thread as it stitches.
  4. When your embroidery design is complete, remove it from your machine. Tear away the Pellon Sol-U-Film Stabilizer that was on top of the velvet fabric and tear away the Sulky Self- Adhesive Stabilizer that was underneath. This should be an easy process.
  5. With the tiger centered on the fabric, cut the velvet fabric in the following dimensions: 15.5” x 11.5”. Cut two.
  6. Lay your fabric with the tiger embroidery facing up, pin the braided trim along the outer edge of the front of your pillow making sure the braid is facing the center of your pillow. It may be difficult to stitch the trim perfectly around the corners of your fabric, so be sure to curve around each corner.
  7. Stitch the braided trim in place by sewing as close to the braid as possible. Be sure to remove the sewing pins as you sew along. When you get to the end of your trim, fold it towards the center of your fabric to prevent the ends from showing on the outside of your pillow.
  8. Take the back side of your pillow case, the second velvet fabric you cut previously, lay it directly on top of the first. Make sure the right side of the velvet fabric are facing each other. (The wrong sides of the velvet fabrics should be facing the outside). Pin in place.
  9. Sew around the outer edge of your pillow using the braided trim as a guide. Leave 6 inches unsewn on the bottom edge of the pillow.
  10. Turn pillow right side out. Push out all four corners of your pillow with a blunt tool being careful not to poke a hole through your fabric. Your design should now be on the outside of your pillow.
  11. Folding your pillow insert in half tightly, place it inside of your pillow case.
  12. Fold the back edge of your unsewn fabric to the inside about a ½ inch. Top stitch in place.
Vaughn Lowery, Alejandra Villagra, illustration, 360 MAGAZINE

5 Reasons You Should Create A Financial Budget

To successfully manage your finances, you must create a budget and stick to it. This may not be easy at first, but it is a rewarding endeavor that will benefit your life. Getting a handle on your hard-earned money makes a huge difference in your lifestyle. Making a financial budget is necessary to live a full life because your choices can make or break you. Here are the top five reasons why you should create a financial budget.

Gives You Control

Your financial budget will give you more control over your money. You will know how much you earn, where every penny is going, and how much you need to save each month. Everything is enumerated, so there is no room for errors. With this roadmap, you have a clear grasp of all your assets and liabilities. It will prevent arguments and protect your relationships because everyone in your family is on board. You all have a clear picture of what is happening with your funds, which helps avoid misunderstandings and arguments.

Helps Attain Goals

A budget is akin to a blueprint that will help guide you into achieving your financial goals, both short-term and long-term. Whether it is setting funds enough for investments, buying a new house, saving money for your kids’ college tuition, or preparing for an emergency, having a definite plan on how to get things done makes you more efficient. You can prioritize your objectives, so you can readily devote your resources to the things that matter to you. With a plan in place, you can crush your goals without getting super stressed out. As the saying goes, people who fail to plan, plan to fail. If you want to hit your targets successfully, you must be willing to do your part.

Keeps You Honest

When you document all your expenses down to the last cent, it allows you to see how you are spending your money concretely. You don’t get surprised that your paycheck has been depleted at the end of each month. With this mindset, you avoid nasty overdraft charges and steep credit card feels. When you hold yourself accountable every day, there is less risk of impulse purchases that drain your savings. When you are true to yourself about your spending habits, you can quickly achieve your goals.

Helps Improve Your Habits

It is a terrible habit to spend more than you earn. This sets you up for a lifetime of misery because you will be immersed in debt. If you continue your bad habits, you set yourself up for financial ruin. By accounting how much you spend and making a budget for your needs, you will make better choices. With these in place, your warning bells will ring when you notice that you are headed in the wrong direction. Consequently, you can take the necessary steps to avoid trouble by inculcating good financial habits. Keeping a budget or financial plan also trains you to be more systematic and consistent with your record-keeping.

Deters Debt and Improves Credit

With a solid financial plan in place for yourself and your family, you are in complete control of your spending. You can make adjustments with your choices if your budget doesn’t cut it. You may also be able to determine ways to help address your existing debt. Moreover, your budget will prevent you from accruing more debt and entering a dangerous downward spiral. When you have your plan in place, you are motivated to pay your bills on time because you see the results firsthand. All of these elements work in conjunction to help you build a good credit score. Better credit gives you more favorable options to lean on during financial emergencies.

Final Word

Crunching numbers may not be as fun as going on an all-out shopping spree, but you need to be more financially responsible as this equates to a better overall quality of life. Having a financial budget prevents you from spending money that you don’t have. Crafting a detailed budget that everyone follows is the only way to achieve real security for your family. Apart from keeping your short-term spending in check, it also sets you up for a more solid long-term financial future.

Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE, smile, dentistry

Top 10 college mistakes to avoid

Though the first year of college does not require you to take complex subjects and write a dissertation, you may find it surprisingly difficult as compared to your last high school year. In most colleges, the freshmen curriculum has plenty of subjects, and teachers’ expectations seem to exceed students’ abilities. However, your academic performance can be better than you think. To realize how much you can achieve as a freshman, try to avoid these common mistakes most people make when entering college or university. 

Skipping classes repeatedly

This is a major temptation for all students living on campus. When there is no one out there to control you, it is easy to skip all morning classes and attend just the ones you like. At first, some teachers may seem quite tolerant of student absences. However, you may regret skipping classes when it comes to tests or exams. Of course, it may be wise to skip a class occasionally after having a big party or spending a long night studying. Just make sure it does not happen often. 

Ignoring time management

When there are many things to do, you need to utilize at least some time-management techniques. Even though the first year is merely an introduction to college life, the pressure in academic subjects is crushing. Now, you have to decide what tasks are a top priority and how much time you can devote to each of them. 

Avoiding communication with teachers

All the teachers at college are new to a freshmen. Most of them devote some time to students who are willing to ask questions. Sometimes, it is the only way to make teacher’s instructions clear. So, take an opportunity to communicate with your teacher. It may help you write better papers and escape conflicts in your college life. 

Wasting money

If this is the first time you have lived on your own, you may go off budget. Now you have to pay for housing, cover your educational needs, and still have money for eating nutritiously. So, you need to make your monthly budget and decide how much you can spend on what. Keep your expenses under control, and you will save more time and energy for what is most important to you. 

Living off campus

There is nothing wrong with living at your parents’ place if your college is situated in your hometown. However, if you need to take a long daily commute, it would be better to move to campus. This way you will save precious time for studying, fun activities, and essential rest. Wasting a few hours on commute every day can kill your ambitious plans and deprive you of energy. 

Oversharing student life on social media

Many freshmen find their new experiences exciting. Still, be careful about what you put on social media. Always think about how your teachers or your future employers would react to your Facebook or Instagram profile. Despite privacy policies, what’s posted on the web can become more public than you may want. 

Depriving yourself of sleep

It happens to all students and everyone else. Nevertheless, studying all night long can kill your performance in a long-term prospect. Do not forget to take care of your health. Try to get as much sleep as you need. Remember that your daily productivity as well as your ability to enjoy life depends on how well-rested you are.

Not asking for help

No doubt, a freshman’s life is more difficult than people expect. Still, many students decide to cope with all their assignments alone. While it is good to be ambitious, it would be even better to learn to delegate your tasks. Ask RapidEssay to complete English 101 essays for you. Decide with your roommates who does what in the dorm. Asking for help is an essential skill that will help you immensely to get through your adult life.

Taking on too much

Besides home assignments and daily chores, your college life is full of fun activities. In participating too much, you can easily exhaust yourself and overlook some important tasks. At first, you can find yourself capable of doing many of the things that you like, but over time, you will see that you are ignoring your less than favorite, but still very important, tasks on a daily basis. 

Staying secluded more than necessary 

Clearly, not all people enjoy new challenges, social events, and stepping out of their comfort zone. If you are one of them, you may find yourself constantly hiding at home, doing the bare minimum of tasks you are expected to complete. In such a case, you are probably missing useful opportunities and potentially interesting activities. Try to take part in some campus events every now and then. As you stop fearing over-exhaustion, you will see many things that may interest you around school. Try one or two of them as they can be an enriching experience.

These are 10 common mistakes that either diminish our productivity or add more trouble to our lives as freshmen. By refraining from these compulsions, you may find it easier to perform well and actually enjoy your college life. 

360 magazine, save money, money, Alejandra Villagra

How to Save Money For What You Really Want

Whether you are looking to save money in order to clear your debt, purchase a new car, put a deposit down on a new home, stage the perfect wedding,or go on the vacation of a lifetime, these simple budgeting tips will help you save money. It might seem difficult at first, but the key is to look at it as a spending plan rather than a restrictive budget. You will not be quitting spending completely, instead you will be prioritizing some financial goals over others.

Make a Budget

A popular budget that many people use to save money is the 50/30/20 budget. 

  • 50% of your post-tax income is used for necessities.
  • 30% is devoted to things you want.
  • 20% is stowed away in savings.

If you stick to this spending plan, you should be able to save a lot of money over the course of a year.

Use Digital Tools

There are lots of apps out there to help you budget. Some banks automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account each time you spend. You will not even notice that the money is gone until you start to see your savings grow. This is great because it allows you to save money with the minimum amount of effort. 

Collect Your Change

Empty your pockets when you get home each day and put the coins in a money box. Checking down underneath the cushions on the sofa, or underneath your car seat are also great ways to help fill your pot.

Cut Down on Expensive Clothes

It is possible to spend vast amounts of money keeping up with the latest trends in fashion. However, the clothes are often overpriced and tend to go out of style very quickly. It is okay to splurge on something you really love occasionally, but for the most part you can get high quality clothing at sites like this for a fraction of the cost.

Plan Major Purchases

Always plan to make major purchases, such as household appliances, furniture, computer equipment or cars, during annual sale periods. Post-Christmas, January sales and Black Friday events are perfect for this. Another underappreciated tip is to wait two days before making a purchase, even after you have decided on which product you are going to buy. This helps prevent buyer’s remorse.

Remain a Stranger to Online Stores

A great way to limit the amount of money you spend online is to opt out of creating online shopping accounts. You are much less likely to make impulse buys if you are required to go through the arduous process of filling out all of your personal data and billing information each time you click through to the online checkout.

Make Your Own Gifts

The cost of buying birthday, Christmas, anniversary, and wedding presents for all the various people in your life can really add up fast. It is not only much more economical, but it is usually seen as more thoughtful and caring to make your own gifts to give to loved ones. Even if you don’t spend a lot of time creating arts and crafts, sites like this can give you the inspiration you need to make a great gift.

Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE

Top Tips to Cut Prom Costs and Still Guarantee a Great Night

Today, high school proms have evolved into red carpet events that can easily cost families hundreds of dollars. But the good news is that, according to the experts, there’s no need to blow your savings account on prom – you can do it on a budget and still ensure that your child has the time of their lives. Whether it’s buying outfits, arranging transport or getting hair and makeup on point, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives that you can swap for while still making sure that your teen looks and feels a million dollars on the night. We’ve put together some of the best money-saving tips for parents for the upcoming prom season. 

#1. Saving on the Prom Dress or Tux:

If you’ve got a daughter who’s going to prom, then chances are her dress is going to take the biggest chunk out of your budget. But the good news is that there are several things you can do in order to save money on the dress, or at least get a more value-for-money option. And the same goes if your teen is wearing a tux. 

Buy online – online shopping is a godsend when it comes to getting a prom dress or a tux. You can often find budget-friendly options at online stores. For instance, Jovani stock dresses to suit every budget (without the quality being compromised) which might be worth exploring . And, don’t just look at dedicated prom sites too; you may be surprised at what comes up in the evening dress section of your favorite online clothing store or the suit section at a popular menswear retailer. 

Rent – since the dress or tux is only going to be worn for the one night, renting instead of buying is a sensible option – however, this will mean that your teen has to be extra careful not to damage their outfit on the night. If you’re willing to take this risk, renting instead of purchasing outright can save a significant amount. 

Second hand – finally, whether you’re getting a dress or a tux for your teen, don’t rule out second-hand options. There will be plenty of parents selling off last years’ prom outfits at bargain prices. 

#2. Save on Accessories:

When it comes to accessorizing a prom outfit, you can end up spending much more than you’d bargained for if you’re not careful – especially if your teen wants the full works! Keep these tips in mind to make sure that you stay within your budget:

Keep it simple – according to the experts, this year it’s all about the earrings – so investing in a stunning pair of earrings will finish the outfit off nicely. Excessive bling isn’t on trend anymore, so there’s no need to go all out with necklaces, bracelets and rings. If you’re choosing accessories for a tux, a pair of quality cufflinks are ideal. Don’t forget that these are items that can be used again and again, so they make perfect graduation gifts too. 

Shoes – there’s plenty of dancing to be had at prom, so don’t overspend on shoes that are probably going to be coming off within the first couple of hours.

#3. Showstopping Makeup and Hair on a Budget:

Makeup is a must for most teenagers at prom – whether it’s a full face or a slick of tinted moisturizer. When it comes to makeup:

Multitasking products are your friend – if you’re getting new cosmetic items for your teen for prom, then opt for items that can double up, like lipsticks that double as cheek stain, or eye pencils that can be used for filling in brows. 

Use what you have – there’s no need to experiment with an entirely new makeup look for prom. If your teen already wears makeup, chances are they have a look in mind that they are comfortable with, and the products that they already have will probably do just fine. 

Practice makes perfect – when it comes to hair, going to a salon might not be necessary. Check out Pinterest and YouTube tutorials, and spend some time practicing styles beforehand so you can DIY it. 

#4. Arrive in Style for Less:

Celebrating with a meal and arriving to prom in style can be pricey, so keep these tips in mind:

Check out coupon sites – websites like Groupon can be an ideal place to look if you want to find the best deals on limo hire in your area, plus discounted meals at posh restaurants fit for a prom queen or king. 

Host it yourself – instead of a fancy restaurant, hosting a pre-prom dinner at your home or a cheap local venue can help to cut costs, especially if you get all the parents involved when it comes to bringing a dish along. 

Do you have any money-saving tips for prom of your own to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Top 20 Most Expensive Tourist Destinations

From Wizardry to Westminster: The Tourist Destinations that Magic your Money Away

 

A comparative study reveals the top 20 most expensive tourist destinations worldwide, with Harry Potter Studios ranking higher than the Houses of Parliament.

 

Berlin, 30 April 2019 – The online comparison and search portal, TicketLens, has published a list of the 20 most expensive attractions around the world according to admission costs. The findings aim to help diligent travellers budget their itineraries ahead of schedule. Researching and planning a holiday can be a tricky and exhausting task. From the cost of travel, accommodation, sightseeing, and food – it’s wise to start counting pennies in preparation long in advance.

 

Table: The twenty attractions in the world with the highest admission prices.

#
 Country
City
Attraction
Entrance Price
1
UK
London
Warner Brothers Studio Tour –

The Making of Harry Potter

$58.57
2
China
Hengdian
Hengdian World Studios
$57.48
3
UAE
Dubai
Burj Khalifa
  $55.65
4
UK
London
Madame Tussauds
$45.58
5
USA
New York City
Spyscape
$42.24
6
USA
New York City
Trolls: The Experience
$39.80
7
USA
New York City
Empire State Building
  $39.79
8
USA
New York City
Top of The Rock
$39.29
9
USA
New York City
Color Factory
$37.81
10
UK
London
Palace of Westminster
$36.46
11
USA
New York City
One World Observatory
$34.82
12
USA
Las Vegas
Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
$33.83
13
Iceland
Reykjavik
Perlan: Wonders of Iceland
$32.48
14
UK
London
Tower of London
$32.15
15
UK
London
Buckingham Palace
$31
15
UK
London
London Eye
$31
17
Tibet
Lhasa
Potala Palace
$29.68
18
Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo One Piece Tower
$28.44
19
Ireland
Dublin
Guinness Storehouse
$28.15
20
Spain
Barcelona
Casa Batlló
$28.15

 

Full Results can be found at http://www.ticketlens.com/en/magazine/the-most-expensive-attractions-in-the-world

  

Further findings:
 

  • If a visit to the viewing platform of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa at $55 is too expensive, you can switch to the world’s second tallest building – the 634 meter-high Tokyo Skytree, which costs just $18.

 

  • Madame Tussauds is a world-renowned wax museum. A visit to the exhibition in London will cost you $46 in admissions. Once inside, you can mingle among royals like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, among other wax replicas of the rich and famous.

 

  • Entrance to Buckingham Palace costs $31. However, a visit to the Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein, reminiscent of childhood fairytales, is a cheaper alternative, with admission prices just $14.50.

 

  • The most expensive attractions are often the newest and have branches around the world. Harry Potter, Trolls, Marvel and One Piece, are films that now have their own remarkable exhibitions, public studios, and attractions that showcase their unique characters and props.

 

  • With attractions on the list, a sightseeing trip to New York City is the most expensive destination. Holidaymakers would be wise to prepare a solid budgeting plan long in advance.

 

  • The Colour Factory, a pop-up exhibition currently based in New York City, offers trendy photo motifs alongside a pricey admission of $37.80.

 

  • The new One World Trade Center has a viewing platform that offers spectacular views of Manhattan and Central Park. With an entrance fee of $34.80, it’s cheaper than both the Top of the Rock observation deck, at $39; and the Empire State Building, also at $39.

 

  • The admission price of Potala Palace, home of the head of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, is $29.70. Visiting the Pope is a more economical alternative, with admission to the Sistine Chapel, his official residence in the Vatican City, just $18.